Papa John's adopts rights plan to limit founder's stake

The Papa John's store in Westminster, Colorado, U.S. August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

(Reuters) - Papa John's International Inc PZZA.O on Sunday adopted a shareholder rights plan, or a "poison pill", with a 15 percent trigger to deter existing stockholders from amassing a controlling stake in the company.

The company also declared a dividend of one right for each outstanding common share. The rights plan expires on July 22, 2019 and the record date for dividend distribution is Aug. 2, the company said in a statement.

The pizza chain’s former chief executive and founder, John Schnatter and his affiliates and associates who currently beneficially own common shares in excess of 30 percent have been grandfathered under the Rights Plan, the company said.

The rights plan intends to protect the interests of the company and its stockholders by reducing the likelihood of gaining control of the company through open market accumulation or other tactics without paying an appropriate control premium, Papa John’s said.

Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, resigned after Forbes reported that he used a racial slur on a conference call.

Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier